NBN Co considers third satellite



blog It is very much apparent at the moment that the National Broadband Network Company’s plans to deploy satellites into orbit over Australia to help service the broadband needs of those in remote areas are up in the air. A wide-ranging review into the satellite aspect of the company’s rollout will shortly be handed down, while some commentators are calling for the two satellites and extensive ground infrastructure NBN Co is currently deploying to be sold off. Heck, there has already been at least one buyout offer from a private sector satellite telco. Into all this comes the news that NBN Co is considering deploying a third satellite to meet projected long-term demand. The Financial Review tells us (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“NBN Co is considering plans to build and launch a third satellite to serve rural and regional areas, a move that could increase the cost of the project, amid concerns the existing two satellites being built will fail to meet expectations.”

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, as many will recall, was not originally the greatest fan of NBN Co building its own satellites. In “There is enough capacity on private satellites already in orbit or scheduled for launch for the NBN to deliver broadband to the 200,000 or so premises in remote Australia without building its own,” Turnbull said in a statement in February 2012.

As it turns out, however, and as Delimiter pointed out at the time, the Minister was incorrect, and there is indeed a very great need for NBN Co to launch its own satellites if it is to be able to service Australia’s remote areas with rural broadband. It may be this reality which has led the Minister into a change of heart on the issue. Turnbull’s latest statement on the satellite situation, as delivered in a speech to the CommsDay Summit earlier this month, is that NBN Co is likely to continue to own its own satellites for some time. At the time, the Minister said:

“… the satellite and fixed wireless networks will likely be drags on the operating budget of the NBN Co, even after the initial capital expenditure period. Although the NBN Co is exploring the possible feasibility of joint ventures – if, for instance, there are third-party assets which can assist in the build or management of the networks – there is virtually no possibility that the company will be able to offload any underperforming assets to the private sector.”

All of this is good news for remote Australia. There is a certain percentage of the nation — especially remote farming facilities — which will never be able to be serviced by fixed telecommunications infrastructure, due to the cost of reaching those areas. Subsidised satellite access is the logical way to target them, and it is pleasing to see NBN Co considering investing further in this area, even before its planned two satellites get off the ground.

Image credit: NBN Co


    • Also shows that once you have said or put something up on the net, it is there to stay forever.

      Either through re-tweets, the many services that archive youtube videos, or things like archive.org itself.

  1. From an AFR article posted here http://www.afr.com/p/technology/nbn_satellite_cost_concerns_as_it_zr6oHEUiqzQi8p4r11G0VM
    An NBN Co spokeswoman said the company was confident of securing the required orbital slots.

    I thought Mike Quigley was quite adamant that the slots were secured when questioned by Turnbull on this issue in the old joint committee hearing.

    There is something odd going on here i think, I’m just not sure what exactly yet.

    Could Turnbull be trying to move a bunch of wireless users onto satellite to try to shift cost to, and hide the cost in the “inadequate” satellite repair job. ie The 3rd satellite.

    Quigley always struck me a man with integrity and i don’t think that they would have got things so wrong, whereas Turnbull (and the new NBNco) seem sleazy. I find it hard to trust anything they say and find myself looking for their play or angle.

    • no IIRC the orbital slots always lagged the decision for the sats – but MQ was confident they would land the slots, i think the language was ‘this isnt unusual in this situation’.

      i think the suspicion is justified; my personal feeling is that if fixed line wasnt messed about with so much, to crowbar it into the MTM design, the demand for these sort of alternate services wouldnt be as large as we are seeing. i fully expect it as a knock on effect of those design decisions, tracable right back to and resting as the responsibility of MT. ironic, considering how as Renai pointed out, he was really against any new satellites to start with; and now they are longfacing about how a third might eventually be needed. its a bad joke, it really is.

  2. As others have suggested, the need went from two to three, because of the reduced ftth footprint..

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